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How this PJ’s Coffee Franchisee Built a Rock Star Team and Led them through the Pandemic

By: PJ's Coffee
Category:PJ's Coffee Franchisees

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Farheen Lala was looking for a purpose. She was ready for a change in her career and wanted to make a difference in the lives of those around her.

Then, what had seemed to be an unlucky circumstance ended up leading Farheen to her new and purposeful beginning: becoming a PJ’s Coffee franchisee.

Farheen, pregnant at the time, was traveling with her family when they had a layover at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. Her husband, Asif, was looking for a much-needed coffee, so they ended up at a PJ’s location.

She was highly impressed by the quality of her beverage. Little did she know it was the first step on a path that would lead her to bigger and better things.

From Medical Office to Coffee Shop Franchise

Farheen began her career by practicing medicine in California. She then moved to the Meridian, MS area with Asif, who is also a physician. Upon having their third child, she realized it was time to make the career switch into business ownership.

Both of her parents were physicians, so she hadn’t had much experience in anything outside of a hospital or office setting. She got to know more about the hospitality industry through her father-in-law, a businessman who owns restaurants and hotels.

“I wanted to find something that I was proud to bring to our area,” she explained.

By this time, months had gone by since she had taken her first sip of PJ’s Coffee. She realized there was a gap in her neighborhood’s market when it came to coffee shops, and her husband was a major advocate for choosing PJ’s as their franchise opportunity.

“There are only a few places that serve coffee here and their hours are super short. I spent my entire road to residency studying at a Starbucks, so the coffee shop concept brought it all full-circle,” said Farheen.

“I just really love the product, from the quality to the sustainable aspect of the farm-to-table coffee beans. PJ’s really cares about their farmers and their people, and I think that’s what matters.”

She also loved the convenience of the PJ’s Coffee business model. Before she knew it, she was already thinking about how she could service her customers through a coffee shop drive-thru.

Opening a PJ’s Coffee Franchise at the Start of a Pandemic

Farheen opened her Meridian location on March 10th, 2020. Just a few days later, COVID intervention protocols were implemented.

“It was a challenge for sure, but it hasn’t stopped anything. One thing about me is that I don’t mind taking risks and I don’t like to second guess myself,” she stated.

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Farheen discussed her plans with Asif, who is also very active with her business. As someone who is strong with numbers, he helps with payroll, accounting and scheduling for her team.

Together, they faced the effects of the pandemic head-on and continued to build their business. Their particular store model — equipped with the drive-thru, an outdoor patio with a waterfall and firepits — made their new coffee shop an appealing oasis during the pandemic.

The location also has a meeting room that she is looking forward to re-opening once the COVID-19 situation improves.

A Strong Support System

Throughout it all, she expressed plenty of gratitude for our team who helped her along the way.

“From the moment we decided we were going to move forward with setting up a location, PJ’s helped a lot,” Farheen said. “They walked us through every single thing, we had weekly calls, and we knew we always had them to reach out to.”

She is thankful for the independence we provide our franchisees with and the effort we make to ensure their success.

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Not only was she thankful for our corporate team helping her, but she appreciated our help with training her own team.

“The PJ’s team was great when they came in for a week to train my employees,” she added. “They broke everything down and made it simple.”

Establishing A Close-Knit Team

For Farheen, one of the most exciting parts of owning a business has been getting to build relationships with her team. She is very much involved in the day-to-day operations of her store and runs it as both the owner and the manager- they even have a team group chat to communicate when they’re not at work.

“We really care about our employees. Half of the things I’ve done, I wouldn’t have been able to do without them. It was a team effort,” she explained.

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Most of Farheen’s employees are younger, such as high schoolers. In fact, her 15-year-old daughter works for her, too.

“Our shop operates as a family. They literally call me ‘mom’,” she revealed. “I’m now a big part of their lives, just like they’re a big part of mine.”

What’s Next

Farheen is excited to continue to grow her Meridian location, especially as COVID restrictions are lifted and life returns to “the new normal.”

“We want to continue to add new things and involve ourselves with what’s going on in the city, like events, graduations, and little parties,” Farheen mentioned. “We are constantly evolving, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

To learn more about PJ’s Coffee franchising opportunities, download our Franchise Brochure.

  • $839,513*

    Average Unit
    Volume (AUV)

  • 12.1%

    Same-Store Sales Increase

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Investment Tiers
  • Traditional Model

    A larger scaled PJ's with a full service menu offering located within a strip mall or free-standing building likely featuring a drive-thru.

    • Size: 550sqft - 1,850sqft
    • Initial Franchise Fee: $35K
    • Initial Investment: $200,775 - $584,000
  • Non-Traditional Model

    A smaller scaled PJ's possibly with a limited menu offering located within another business - College/University Campuses, Healthcare Facilities, Hotels, Government Facilities, Military Bases, Airports, Shopping Malls, Etc.

    • Size: 250sqft - 1,000sqft
    • Initial Franchise Fee: $25K
    • Initial Investment: $190,775 - $393,000
  • Multi-Unit Option Agreements

    PJ's offers opportunities to enter into a Multi-Unit Option Agreement to develop multiple PJ's over a specified development schedule in a designated market. The initial franchise fee for the first PJ’s location is $35,000. Subsequent PJ’s Units receive a reduced franchise fee. The fee for each PJ’s Unit numbered two or greater is $10,000.

  • Master Franchise Agreements

    PJ's offers opportunities to International Franchisees to enter into a Master Franchise Agreement to develop multiple PJ's over a specified development schedule in a designated country or countries.

    • Initial Master Franchise Fee: $250k minimum (Varies depending on size of country or countries)
    • Total Investment: Varies depending on the number of PJ's developed
A Few More...
  • PJs has provided me with the flexibility to prioritize my day-to-day responsibilities. While demanding, the work/life balance I have been able to obtain while owning my locations is invaluable. PJ’s is a family-oriented brand and that is evident every day - we have great working, as well as personal, relationships with many folks at corporate. It truly is a family centered culture that I am excited to grow with! - Andrew Jones
  • We loved the products and the business model, and it all worked out so well. The ability to work with them is what sets them apart. They are very reasonable people and it’s a solid company. When we went to meet the team, everyone was super kind, and it was very apparent that they provide a ton of support to their franchisees. It’s important to feel like you can always reach out to somebody when needed. - Angela Harmon
  • I think if someone is looking for a franchise opportunity they should find something that fits their lifestyle. If you're a morning person, a coffee business might be good for you. I'm a morning person so waking up at 4 A.M. is fine, the whole 'wake up and smell the coffee' thing - that's me. - Anthony Satterlee
  • I decided to look into coffee and probably spent about 3 years doing the investigation. I decided on PJ's because the quality of the product is just head and shoulders above everybody else. - Tom Lewis
  • It's easy to be successful. You can become part of your community in a way you can't otherwise in a lot of other businesses. I would highly recommend it. - Polly Fisher
  • The best part of being a franchisee is the freedom. It gives you the opportunity to provide for your family, but also be a part of your family. It gives you time to play with your children or take a vacation, but still have a fantastic business. - Kelly Songy
  • The biggest lesson I've learned with PJ's Coffee is that you're going to get out of it, what you put into it. Buying a franchise doesn't necessarily mean you're going to reach instant success. The more work you put into it, the more successful you'll be. - Aubry Miller
  • I decided owning a PJ's Coffee shop was the way to go. From start to finish, corporate was there for me when I selected a location, ordered equipment and furniture. - Mateusz Dabrowski
  • I fell in love with PJs Coffee and the brand, years before I ever owned a location and now I own two! I wanted a business that, with the right staff, would be able to operate successfully without me having to be there all day every day. PJs coffee gives you that flexibility and freedom. I also love the family atmosphere that corporate provides and the camaraderie between franchisees is wonderful! You are in business for yourself, but not by yourself, and that is a great sense of comfort and security. I love this business!

    - Roxanne DeNicola
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